In the Wake of Fedor Emelianenko's Loss a Battle Brews Between M-1 and Strikeforce


The news comes via Michael David Smith at MMA Fighting:

Despite M-1 Global's claims that there's nothing left to negotiate before the third and final fight on Fedor Emelianenko's contract with Strikeforce, Strikeforce says at least one issue does need to be negotiated: A champion's clause in the contract that would prevent Fedor from leaving to fight in another promotion if he becomes the Strikeforce champion.

M-1 Global says it wants Fedor's next fight to be a rematch with Fabricio Werdum, who beat Fedor on June 26. But Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has said that his preferred option for Fedor's next fight is a bout with Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, and Strikeforce spokesman Mike Afromowitz told that a champion's clause is going to be negotiated.

MDS does go on to say that giving Fedor a title fight off the loss is a shrewd business move because it either retains Fedor with their champion clause or sends him off with two consecutive losses.  I can see the point he is trying to make. However, at some point they have to stop giving guys coming off of losses title shots. It cheapens the title and makes Strikeforce seem low rent and lacking in options (which they may be, but they have to mask it publicly).

The real interesting thing here is that you can see the fear melting away for Strikeforce.  M-1 lost a lot of their power to make demands with Fedor's loss and now Strikeforce is trying to push them into the bout that that they want. In the end I'd be shocked if we don't see the Fedor/Werdum rematch just because M-1 will hold Fedor out and force Strikeforce to try and get one more "money fight" out of the contract.

Still, it's amazing that win or lose there is just no way for a Fedor fight to not involve a healthy round of negotiations.

Vadim Finkelstein was recently interviewed by Sports.Ru and had a lot to say about both this situation, Brock Lesnar and the UFC (translated by

Strikeforce are talking now about the fight against Alistair Overeem, and then against Fabricio Werdum. Do you think it’s because of their intentions to keep Fedor at Strikeforce as long as possible?

We are ready to fight against anyone, but everyone agrees that the most interesting fight right now is the rematch against Fabricio Werdum. We have one fight left on our contract, so if Strikeforce want to extend it – they should listen to our opinion.  Fedor will fight again sometime between October and November. I’ll repeat that again: the only thing fans want to see is Fedor vs Werdum II. Fabricio himself said that he would like to rematch Fedor in Russia. It’s great, but this fight will not happen in Russia.

Dana White reacted to Fedor’s loss with a simple ":D" sign in his Twitter account, and called Strikeforce’s agreement with Fedor "a mistake". What do you think about that?

I can really feel that the rating makers on the US websites really wanted Fedor Emelianenko to suffer from his first "real" defeat.  They now have Fedor on the Third Place, and the first is Brock Lesnar. Question: Who’s Brock Lesnar? He has only five professional fights, and one defeat. He is a marketable fighter because of his WWE past. They sell-out 60,000 stadiums for that crap, which no one would even consider watching in Russia. That’s why Brock Lesnar is popular. As for Fedor, he is not a marketable fighter – he’s just the best. He destroyed everyone during 10 years. He has 31 victories.

Will you ever be able to reach an agreement with the UFC?

I think yes. But not on the same terms they offered us before. We will not let ourselves to get owned. Fedor became so popular not inside the Octagon. So, long story short: 1. We would like to receive guaranteed payments. I know that if we agree for percents, they will cheat us. 2. Maybe not a co-promotion (like we offered before), but at least co-branding. 3. They also will have to permit Fedor participating in Sambo competitions, and during our last negotiations UFC were ready for that term. Now we have a co-promotion with We go 50-50 with them on our co-promoted events, but there’s still some problematic issues.  We want our fighters to fight on these events, but they tell us "the crowd wants to see Americans."

I sincerely doubt that the UFC is telling anyone "the crowd wants to see Americans." However, it is interesting to see the slide for M-1's power continue with them now saying that they're willing to back down on the co-promotion.  The bully got beat up on the playground finally and now they've been forced to stop trying to act so tough because they know people aren't buying it anymore.

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